Sales of luxury homes in most parts of the U.S. have continued to increase over the last year, according to an analysis of more than 40 high-end counties in 16 states, despite concerns from some analysts about a slowdown.
The study, by research firm John Burns Real Estate Consulting, showed that the number of homes priced above $600,000 grew in 37 out of 43 counties analyzed and that sales above that threshold in the last 12 months increased by more than 10% over the previous year.
“There’s been this notion that luxury is in a recession,” said John Burns, the group’s chief executive. “What’s slowing and getting a lot of headlines are the $5 million homes and the $8 million homes.” For homes priced below those ultraluxury levels but still far above median prices, demand has remained strong, he said.
The data show that growth might have slowed as the year has progressed. While sales over $600,000 increased by 10% across all 43 markets when examining the last 12 months, the growth rate was 5% when looking at sales in the third quarter of this year compared with the same period in 2015.
Still, sales for the third quarter increased year-over-year for homes in every price range up the scale. Sales of homes between $1 million and $1.1 million grew by 4%, those between $1.1 million and $1.2 million grew by 10% and those $1.5 million and above edged 1% higher.
What constitutes luxury, of course, isn’t the same in every market.
Homes above $600,000 would be considered high-end in Fulton County, Ga., where the median price is about $228,000. But in San Francisco, median home prices are above $1 million.
For the most expensive markets, the results were mixed. Sales of homes above $1.5 million in Alameda County, Calif., home to Oakland, grew by 20% in the third quarter, and sales in that price range grew by 30% in Brooklyn, N.Y., over the same period.
But sales above $1.5 million in Manhattan fell by 10% in the third quarter compared with a year earlier, and sales in Santa Clara County, Calif.—home to Silicon Valley—fell by 11% in that time frame. The analysis, using CoreLogic data, focused on large markets where new home construction is high.
Mr. Burns attributed some of the slowdown in luxury homes in Manhattan and Miami to a decrease in foreign-buyer sales after the Treasury Department required more disclosure of buyers’ names in all-cash property transactions involving limited liability companies. The initiative started in Manhattan and Miami in January and expanded over the summer to other markets, including parts of coastal California, the rest of New York City, counties near Miami and San Antonio.
In less pricey markets around the country, however, higher-end sales have remained strong. In Denver, sales above $600,000 increased by 32% overall in the third quarter, and sales above $600,000 in El Dorado County, Calif., outside Sacramento, grew by 31% for the same period.
The trend was on display this week when luxury national home builder Toll Brothers Inc. again reported double-digit revenue growth and projected a rosy 2017 despite analysts’ concerns about a high-end slowdown.
“While there has been some debate about softness in the luxury housing market, we continue to produce impressive results by serving what we believe is a demographic sweet spot in the luxury market,” Toll Brothers’ Chief Executive Douglas Yearley said on an earnings call, noting the company has an average sales price of about $690,000 in markets outside of California and New York. “Our product lines are affordable to many households in the U.S.”
Original article published on THE WALL STREET JOURNAL written by CHRIS KIRKHAM